An effort by the U.S. Senate to reform the nation’s medical liability system by placing reasonable caps on non-economic damages fell short earlier this week, reportedly leaving the future of reform legislation in doubt for 2004.
“The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) commends Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for continuing to make medical liability reform a priority this Congress,” said Carl Parks, senior vice president, federal government relations for PCI. “Senator Frist’s intention was to try and return control of the nation’s hospitals, trauma centers and delivery rooms where it belongs – with trained medical professionals and administrators committed to serving all Americans. However, today’s vote demonstrates that moving liability reform legislation in the Senate remains an uphill battle. PCI will continue to work closely with the business and healthcare communities to fight for medical liability reform to improve access to health care for everyone.”
According to the PCI, lottery-style court settlements not only reduce access to health care for many who need it most, they also result in the majority of Americans paying higher prices for health care insurance, according to Parks. Studies have shown that reasonable limits on non-economic damages – such as those contained in the House-passed legislation, H.R. 5 – will make health care more affordable and available.
“PCI hopes that the Senate vote will not result in Congress losing its desire to apply sensible reforms to the full spectrum of American health care in order to ensure both the accessibility and quality of health care, health coverage and medical innovation,” added Parks.
PCI serves on the board of the Health Coalition on Liability and Access, a broad-based coalition of physician, hospital, employer and insurer associations working in the support of medical liability reform.